Unions must break with Starmer NOW and call a general strike to bring down Tories and bring in socialism!

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LABOUR is becoming ‘irrelevant to workers’ and it is now hard to justify handing the party millions in funding, the leader of the Unite union, Sharon Graham has warned in an interview with the Observer newspaper.

She added that Labour’s leadership was, in effect, sticking two fingers up at workers with its response to strike action and its abandonment of pledges to renationalise public utilities.

Graham spoke up after Labour Party leader Keir Starmer provoked widespread anger among millions of workers by sacking Sam Tarry MP as shadow transport minister, for joining a railworkers picket line and making a statement that workers deserved a pay rise that matched inflation.

Starmer for good measure said last week that past pledges to renationalise utilities had to be reassessed, in the light of the debt left by the Covid pandemic.

Graham said: ‘It is undoubtedly the fact that Labour is becoming more and more irrelevant … It’s unfortunate, but it is a fact. What’s required right now is for the party that is there for workers stands up and stops being embarrassed to be the party for workers.’

She added: ‘Workers are being crushed here. I think there’s a real crossroads here for Labour. I don’t know anyone who thinks what happened to Sam Tarry is correct. He’s on a picket line. He’s talking about wages. Is Labour now saying that people should have a national wage cut? If you’re not keeping up with inflation, you are having a cut in pay.’

She also warned that she found it difficult to justify continuing to fund Labour through affiliation fees. She said the issue would be debated by union members at a crucial meeting next summer. Unite continues to give more than £1m a year to Labour, but the funding has fallen significantly since Starmer took over as leader.

‘I have no doubt it will come up with the Unite rules conference, I’ve got absolutely no doubt,’ she said. ‘The last time it was debated, it was only narrowly won. I think it’s harder and harder to defend.

‘There’s no point giving money to a party that is basically sticking two fingers up to workers. It’s almost like an abusive relationship. You are the voice of workers in Westminster; we are their voice on the ground. I think it’s a very difficult conversation and I think that members will decide.’

Simon Fletcher, a former adviser to the Labour leader, has warned that the rows had revealed the ‘limitations of Labour’s project as it stands’ and that too much focus was on simply differentiating Starmer from Jeremy Corbyn. Writing on the Observer’s website at the weekend, he stated: ‘The Labour leadership’s problem is that it gives every impression of being more obsessed with differentiating itself from the previous leader than with the millions of people getting hit through their pay and their energy bills.’

In response to Tory threats to impose more anti-union laws, some union leaders have raised the prospect of joint action akin to a general strike, and Graham ruled nothing out. However, she said she had no interest in ‘glorious defeats’ and had instead been planning new ‘strike plus’ measures designed to gain an upper hand on employers offering unfair deals to employees. These include using forensic accountants to investigate companies and gain leverage over them.

In fact, a Truss-led Thatcherite regime will make it clear from its first day of office that its aim is to drive the working class back to the Dark Ages using a raft of anti-union laws to make the right to strike history.

On June 18th, the TUC organised a march on Parliament. It should have been the first day of a general strike but the TUC leaders refused to call it.

Over 100,000 workers were on the streets but the TUC was not willing to call a general strike to bring down the government.

The Tories lived to fight another day. Now they are planning to come back with a massive raft of anti-trade union laws to make the right to strike history, thus condemning millions of workers to extreme poverty.

In the face of this, the Unite leader Graham says that she does not want a general strike, and will place her trust in forensic accountants to investigate companies to maintain leverage over them.

This is nonsense. Forensic accountants will not get rid of capitalism. That role in the historical process has been reserved for the revolutionary working class of the world.

The bankruptcy of Graham emphasises the need for a new and revolutionary leadership in the trade unions to organise the general strike to bring down the Tories and bring in a workers government and socialism through the nationalisation of the means of production under workers management, with Parliament replaced by Workers Soviets. This is the way forward. Join the WRP and the YS today to fight for it!